Col. Talis Grant (FettaS) and his second-in-command from the SCD Indomitable face a court martial for their role in an incident that led to the deaths of thousands of Sivadians during Arc III (Pandora’s Lament).

Situation Room – SCCV VERSAILLES

– SCCV Versailles

A projection screen and interstellar map dominate the aft bulkhead of this spacious chamber, with a podium before the screen that bears the Vanguard seal – an eagle clutching a lightning bolt in one taloned foot and a bushel of wheat in the other, against a backdrop of blazing stars. Two dozen chairs are arranged in four rows of six for crew and pilots to gather for briefings. A Stellar Consortium index terminal is off to port. To starboard, a holographic imager table allows officers to plan military strategy in three dimensions.

Entering moments before the Colonel, a Captain in stiff, creased dress uniform enters. The expression on his face is emotionless, though a lurking impression of anger and hatred runs rampant.

With short, crisp strides, a prim and proper man wearing a starched uniform and rank insignia of Colonel arrives. He nods to a passing yeoman as she stride from the room, documents in hand. “Evening, Gentlemen.”

AB145Q swivels its head to regard the Colonel, and blinks in acknowledgement. “Good evening, Colonel.”

Richards nods “Evening Colonel”

FettaS arrives from Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

FettaS enters from outside.

Marcus looks dispassionately at the newly arrived, thus far unknown Colonel. “Colonel.” Is all he says in a raspy voice, already making his way towards a nearby seat.

Kaspar arrives from Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

Ash arrives from Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

Kaspar changes his stance to attention at the sight of his superiors.

Jenkins clears his throat, making his way towards the head of the situation room’s table. Once there he turns to survey the room and the accompanying officers. His eyes scan the gathering group, stopping on Richards’ face, then Marcus, Kaspar and the newly arriving Ash. Finally, it comes to rest on AB145Q’s presence after briefly flickering past FettaS’ own visage. “Are we ready, Colonel?”

AB145Q whirs toward Colonel FettaS. “Where is the lieutenant colonel?”

Kaspar looks around through somewhat squinted eyes, desperately looking for some sort of input as to how this might all end.

Jenkins perks an eyebrow, slowly swiveling his attention away from the automated officer and onto FettaS.

FettaS looks to the robot, “He is on his way”.

The faint sound of creaking leather is heard as Marcus coughs quietly into his hand, repositioning himself in his chair.

Giovanni arrives from Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

Giovanni has arrived.

AB145Q clicks and whirs, then looks back to Jenkins. “This unit acknowledges that all is in readiness.”

Ash salutes each of the officers in the room and then moves to the right and stands rigid, listening to everything that is being said.

Giovanni steps into the room, his head bowed slightly and takes his seat.

Jenkins’ attention is drawn towards the door as the next arrival enter. With a grim nod of acknowledgement, Jenkin’s once again clears his throat and announces loudly, clearly. “All rise.”

AB145Q elevates slightly higher than normal.

Richards stands quickly

Kaspar straightens immediately.

Marcus sighs a tad loudly, standing very slowly like an old cat unraveling from a mid-afternoon nap.

Giovanni stands from his seat slowly.

Kaison arrives from Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

Kaison steps through the door in the fore and silently takes a seat to watchthe proceedings.

Letting his flinty gaze sweep over those present, Colonel Jenkins continues on. “We are present this evening to judge, in a Military Court of Law, the actions of fellow officers…”

Marcus is standing along with those present, his gaze sweeping past those present and sighs once more, a bit quieter than before.

Ash eye’s narrow as if he is lost in a deep concentration.

Jenkins looks around the room once before leaning onto the table, palms flat, picking up where he left off. “We all know the story gentlmen. We are here to decide for ourselves, with unbiased opinions and thoughts, if what was done was warranted. And should we find these actions unwarranted, we will deal with it accordingly in this court of law. Am I understood?”

FettaS nods comprehendingly.

With a cold flicker of sadistic humour spreading across his features, Marcus nods once, his eyes only briefly darting over towards FettaS and Giovanni’s position.

Giovanni nods, observing Jenkins carefully as he speaks.

The prosecutor, a silver-haired colonel with sharp features and predatory eyes, glances slowly toward the accused, then back to Jenkins.

Kaspar lips part slightly as if to say something… then seal themselves…

Ash opens his eyes and gazes directly at Jenkins waiting to hear the rest of what he is saying, glancing momentarily at the accused.

Jenkins clears his throat once more, nodding, evidently satisfied. “Good.” With this one, simple word, his whole demeanor changes – Eyes beetle together, chest puffs out and his rigid stance becomes more so. “Colonel Talis Grant – You are hereby charged with the following: Deriliction of Duty. Reckless Endangerment. Accessory To Murder. Mass Murder.”

Eyes now crossing towards the only Lt. Colonel present, Jenkins’ voice booms once more. “Lt. Giovanni Sonaceli. You are hereby charged with the following accounts: Deriliction of Duty. Reckless Endangerment. Accessory To Murder. Mass Murder.” After a brief pause, the man places his hands at the small of his back, turning to face FettaS once more.

Marcus snorts softly beneath his breath, his face clouding over even further as the charges are read off.

Jenkins says, “Colonel Talis Grant. How do you plea?” Comes the commanding yet soft and disembodied voice of Colonel Jenkins.”

Giovanni nods carefully at these words and bows his head slowly, his features dark and ragged. Fatigued seems to plague this man. He stares at the floor in front of him softly.

Ash places his hand on his face rubbing the dark pink scar on his face. He then looks to Lt.Giovanni Sonaceli and Colonel Talis Grant giving them both an icy stare.

FettaS looks Jenkins straight in the eyes and says in a powerful tone, “I plead not guilty”.

Jenkins nods once to FettaS, his eyes, though directly pointed on the other’s, seem far and distant. Now turning to the other, he asks once more. “Lt. Colonel Giovanni Sanaceli.”

The grim-faced prosecutor lets his eyes drift toward Giovanni.

“How do you plea?” Asks the Colonel, finishing off his statement.

Giovanni replies, loudly, “Guilty.”. A strong Italian accent highlights this word.

AB145Q flickers its optical sensors.

AB145Q swivels its head toward Giovanni.

FettaS looks to his XO astonished.

Marcus blinks, the news evidently shocking to himself as he stares at the Lt. Colonel. Not long thereafter, however, a slow smirk crosses his lips, cruel, cold and – respectful?

AB145Q swivels its head back to Jenkins. “Colonel, this unit notes that the Lt. Colonel acted against advice of counsel.”

Ash tilts his head and blinks in astonishment at what the Lt. Col. has just confessed.

AB145Q says, “Respectfully, this unit rescinds the plea on his behalf.”

Jenkins, unable to tear his eyes away from the Lt. Colonel for a short moment, he finally does so and focuses in on the automated defense attorney. “The court notes that Lt. Colonel Giovanni Sanaceli is acting against advice of the council.”

Clicking and whirring, the Phyrrian defense counselor turns its sensors back to Giovanni and speaks: “Colonel, you may feel responsible for what happened, but you did not commit the crime of mass murder. Recant the plea.”

Jenkins clears his throat, looking back towards Giovanni, attention drawn between the two as they discuss. “Lt. Colonel?” He asks, his tone, no matter how neutral, holds a bit of encouragement and hope.

Clicking and whirring, the Phyrrian defense counselor turns its sensors back to Giovanni and speaks: “Colonel, you may feel responsible for what happened, but you did not commit the crime of mass murder. Recant the plea.”

Jenkins clears his throat, looking back towards Giovanni, attention drawn between the two as they discuss. “Lt. Colonel?” He asks, his tone, no matter how neutral, holds a bit of encouragement and hope.

Giovanni looks towards the Colonel, thinking momentarily. He nods carefully at the advise of his defence and replies, “I then, change my plea to not guilty.” his voice is filled with regret, and dishonor in mentioning this. He eyes Colonel Abby a moment before returning his gaze to the floor.

Marcus coughs rather loudly, smothering the mockingness of his smirk with his fist, attention returning back towards Jenkins.

AB145Q flickers its optical sensors, then directs them back to Jenkins.

FettaS’s eyes flicker to where Marcus is sitting and then return to where they should be.

Ash stares off into space as if he is lost in deep concentration.’

The prosecutor sitting at his table steeples his finger and seems satisfied to bide his time.

Jenkins nods once, his eyes slowly peeling off of the Lt. Colonel. “Then, we will begin. All are seated.” With this, he pulls up the chair behind him and to the table. “Except for the accused.” He appends. “You will stand there.” Indicates the head of the table with an outstretched finger.

FettaS moves to the indicated position.

Giovanni nods and remains standing. He places his hands behind his back and stares blankly at the floor.

“Opening statements.” Jenkins says, leaning back and getting comfortable in his chair.

Ash sits and slides the chair up to the table. He straightens his back and turns towards the Col. to listen.

FettaS places his hands behind his back.

Jenkins swivels his gaze towards the prosecutor.

Marcus shakes his head slowly, gaze slowly searching out the accused.

The prosecutor stands, nods, then glances around at the assembled jurors. “Gentlemen, the facts of the case are these, and they are not disputed: The Wasp-class destroyer Indomitable, under the command of Col. Talis Grant and Lt. Col. Giovanni Sonaceli departed Citadel Base on an unauthorized espionage mission to Sivad. At the time, we were in a state of war with Sivad and the dictator of that world, Laurence Montevedo. The brash officers went so far as to *land* on Sivad. As a result, Montevedo ordered the killings of 10,000 people. Men. Women. Children. All killed. All because of the actions of the two men who stand before you today. Those are the facts. They are not disputed.” He smiles tightly, then takes a seat.

Jenkins nods very slowly, sitting forward to steeple his fingers before him, tapping his bottom lip against the highest ‘peak’. “Defense?”

AB145Q whirs and swivels its head to study the jurors with its optical receptors. “The facts, packaged conveniently by my esteemed colleague, are hardly enough to establish a basis for a mass murder charge. The facts, put objectively, are these: The Indomitable was under the command of Col. Grant. He did make a journey to Sivad, without orders. He did order Lt. Col. Sonaceli to land the Indomitable. But neither individual killed anyone, directly or indirectly. Did they make a mistake? Most certainly. Did they kill anyone? Incontrovertibly – no. The evidence does not support it.” The Phyrrian then goes into standby mode.

Marcus nods very slowly in agreement to the prosecutor’s words and turns to face AB145Q

Jenkins leans back, evidently mulling over the words that were just spoken. “Prosecution…” He says, indicating the silver-haired colonel with a bony finger, “You have the floor.”

The prosecutor rises. “The prosecution calls Lt. Col. Giovanni Sonaceli, Your Honor.”

Ash leans forward putting his olive-skinned chin in the palm of his hand and waits for the prosecution.

AB145Q swivels its optical sensors toward Giovanni.

Jenkins nods, looking over towards Giovanni and pointing at him. “Lt. Colonel. Do you swear under oath that everything you say is the truth and to the best of your knowledge one-hundred percent accurate as to the events that happened before, during and after the action in question?”

Giovanni looks to his defense a moment. He sighs and walks up to a chair. He awaits to be sworn in.

The prosecutor steps away from the table and waits for the witness to acknowledge the oath.

Giovanni nods and replies, “I do.” as the oath is quietly said to him. He takes a seat at the chair, crossing a leg over the other and eyeing the floor. His features are dark, and his hair is a bit disheveled.

Boney finger still hovering at Giovanni as if attached to the Lt. Colonel, finally darts downard to indicate the chair. “You may be seated.” Comes Jenkins’ reply.

Smiling grimly, the prosecutor says, “Colonel, in your own words, please tell this court what happened.”

Marcus leans back while a small chorus of crackling leather engulfs his every move.

Ash leans back in his chair to get a little more comfortable. He then crosses his leg and waits.

Giovanni sighs slightly, his words heavy as he speaks, “I…I boarded the Indomitable, checking the reactor because it had been malfunctioning the day before…I went into the bridge and found Colonel Grant there. We undocked from the Citadel…I was supposing we were going on patrol. I manned gunnery, and Major Durinde was navigating…halfway through the trip the Major was called to a lower deck, so I took over Navigation. As we neared Sivad, Colonel Grant order that we land on the surface…so we did. The Colonel and I embarked on an information gathering mission I would suppose, and barley escaped with our lives intact.” his words are accented heavily, and drag on a bit. He sighs, “We then returned and found..the situation as it was.” he closes his eyes momentarily as he bows his head, a frown on his lips.

The prosecutor nods. “What was that situation?”

Giovanni sighs, “Four thousand souls dead, due to our mishap upon the planet…later even more.”

Marcus sits forward in a sudden, jolting movement as his mouth quirks upward and lips part.

Twisting his mouth briefly, the prosecutor then asks, “Ten thousand, I believe, was the grand total, wasn’t it?”

Jenkins shoots a warning glance over towards Marcus, his brow heavy and disapproving, like a shepard keeping the wolf at bay.

Giovanni nods, “That’s is correct, sir.”

The prosecutor crosses his arms and lowers his chin toward his chest. “Ten thousand people who would not have been killed had you not landed on the planet. Correct?”

AB145Q clicks and whirs. “Objection. Speculation.”

With a quick nod, Jenkins shoots a warning glare over towards the prosecutor. “Sustained. Prosecution – That is uncalled for and I am sure you know why. Carry on.”

The prosecutor smiles faintly, then shakes his head. “Nothing further from me, Your Honor.” He turns and walks back to his chair.

Giovanni replies, “We-” but is cut off by the objection. He glances over at his defense, and at Colonel Grant. He stays silent, and looks up at the prosecutor.

A wry, cold smile worms it’s way up over Marcus’ mouth as he leans back, a satisfied gleam to his eyes.

Jenkins blinks several times, eyes attached to the Prosecution. “Understood.” He says finally, looking towards the defense. “You have the floor.”

AB145Q elevates and whirs toward Giovanni. “Colonel, this unit appreciates your patience. A few questions.”

AB145Q says, “You gave no order to depart Citadel, correct?”

Giovanni raises a brow slightly at his defense, “No. I gave no order.”

AB145Q clicks and whirs. “You gave no order to land on Sivad?”

Giovanni shakes his head, “No sir.”

AB145Q whirs briefly, then says, “You shot no one?”

Marcus slowly raises his hand to his chin, scratching it in quiet contemplation.

Giovanni shakes his head in reply, he seems almost suprised, “Of course not.”

AB145Q swivels its head toward Jenkins. “This unit respectfully seeks all charges lodged against the defendant, Lt. Col. Giovanni Sonaceli be dismissed.”

Jenkins takes a long, slow breath as his eyes gaze intently at the Lt. Colonel.

The prosecutor stands bolt upright, turning red. “Excuse me?”

Jenkins opens his mouth as if to say something but is cut off by the words from the Prosecutor.

Giovanni frowns slightly but remains silent.

FettaS nods at the Colonels correct request.

The prosecutor shakes his head, seething, then looks to the judge. “Your honor, I apologize for the outburst. I take it my objection is noted.”

Jenkins nods, “Duelly so, prosecution. Defense – ” Turns towards the automated officer. ” – It will be the courts decision whether that charges will be dropped or not. That is the purpose of such a hearing after all. Now…” Words trail off as his attention once again focuses in on the prosecutor. “If the prosecution has no further witnesses…”

The Phyrrian flickers its optical sensors, but shows no apparent reaction to the judgment of the court.

Shaking his head, the prosecutor stands. “No further witnesses. But one more question for this one.”

Marcus takes a deep breath, the leather chair only croaking even more as his weight is pushed deeper within it’s padded folds.

Jenkins nods, his eyebrows perking upward. “That is?”

The prosecutor looks to Giovanni. “You gave no orders to land on Sivad. But when you did land, you knew it was without authorization, right?”

Giovanni shakes his head, “No sir…I did not know it was unauthorized…I wasn’t directing it.”

The prosecutor blinks. “You thought the orders were legal?”

Marcus stiffles another smirk, his hand quickly covering his features.

Giovanni shrugs, “It is not within my ah…character to be questioning orders. That would not be correct to me.”

Ash rolls his eyes and looks back to the accused.

The prosecutor nods. “I see. What did Col. Grant tell you about your orders and your mission?”

Giovanni smirks slightly, “He ah told me to land on Sivad. That is all he told me.” his features turn cold…his entire demeanor changing.

Jenkins shakes his head very slowly as his eyes cast downward at the table before him.

The prosecutor furrows his brow. Then he nods and looks to Jenkins. “Your honor, upon further questioning, I am of the opinion that Colonel Abbey is correct. Charges should be dropped here and now against this defendant.”

Jenkins raises an eyebrow, looking towards Giovanni and then towards FettaS for a long moment. “If that is the wishes of those present – What say ye?” He says, asking all others present – The peers and fellow officers. “Should charges against Lt. Colonel Giovanni Sonaceli be dropped? Yay or Nay.”

AB145Q swivels its receptors toward the jurors.

With slow, measured movement, Jenkins’ gaze sweeps through the room, stopping at each juror. Presently, it stops on Ash. “What say you, Corporal?”

Ash closes his eyes in deep concentration and simply says, “Yay, sir.”

Jenkins nods slowly, turning to face Marcus, “What say you, Captain?”

With a gentle cough, Marcus sits upright, flecked-blue eyes peering intently on Giovanni as he decides his fate. Again, a cruel smile works it way to his features as his jaw works from side to side.

“Captain?” Comes the urging from Jenkins’ lips. “Yay or nay, Captain.”

Marcus retains the smirk as his head shakes back and forth, the word, “Yay.” seeps from his mouth.

AB145Q flickers its optical receptors.

Jenkins nods approvingly, his eyes departing from Marcus to focus in on Giovanni. “The court votes in favor of dropping the charges against Lt. Colonel Giovanni Sonaceli. You are dismissed to watch the procedures, Lt. Colonel.”

The prosecutor says, “With that, Your Honor, the prosecution rests.”

Giovanni grumbles slightly and stands from the stand. He walks towards the audience, giving his CO a sidewards glance. It is a sorrowful glance, yet full of hope. He takes his head amongst the audience to watch the proceedings.

Jenkins nods, eyes turning towards AB145Q. “Your witnesses for the case of Colonel Talis Grant?”

AB145Q clicks and whirs. “This unit calls one witness, Your Honor. Col. Talis Grant.”

Marcus’ eyes track Giovanni down as he takes a seat, nodding only once in confirmation to something within himself before his attention is diverted back to the item at hand.

FettaS moves to the stand as his name is called as a witness.

Flinty eyes flicker towards FettaS and nod, Jenkins’ voice repeating once more. “Colonel FettaS. You are fully aware of the charges brought against you and will, under oath, testify to the best of your knowledge that everything you state in this military court of justice is one-hundred percent accurate as to the events in question. Before, during and after?”

Ash gives FettaS an icy stare as he walks to the stand.

Marcus smiles blandly as FettaS approaches the stand, his head slowly nodding up and down.

FettaS nods, “Yes Colonel. I do swear that I will testify truthfully”.

“You may be seated.” Jenkins orders, looking towards the defense. “You may begin.”

FettaS takes a seat.

AB145Q whirs away from the defense table, approaching the witness. “This unit will not delay you unduly, Colonel. Please state for the record, in your own words, what happened.”

FettaS nods

Jenkins looks towards the Colone, anticipation barely hidden behind his eyes.

FettaS says, “Very well. It all began when I noticed that Major Erin Durinde, Second Officer of the SCD Indomitable and SCB Indomitable was feeling a little down. He had taken over as Commandant of the Vanguard Academy and hadn’t seen much space time. So I thought ‘why not go on a patrol’. So I offered him a chance to go out and he jumped at it. So we went aboard the Indomitable and powered her up. Just before we were ready to leave The Lieutenant Colonel shows up on the Bridge and I ordered him to take he Gunnery Station.”

Marcus looks upward towards the overhead as the Colonel speaks.

Jenkins sits up in his chair as his body squirms to get comfortable.

FettaS continues with his speech, “We launched and our first stop was Mars. Then I remembered that the Vanguard had recently declared war on the Dictator of Sivad. Mr. Montevado and I thought now would be a good time to collect Intelligence Reports on the Planet. So as the Major went below deck to check out a problem with the rics system. I order Mr. Sonacelli to lay in a course and land us on Sivad. There we got nothing and returned to the Indomitable with barely our backs. Then we saw the mass murderings that Montevedo committed on his own people and we returned to Citadel.

AB145Q whirs and clicks. “You killed no one?”

FettaS shakes his head, “When we were down there not a soul was seen”.

The Phyrrian swivels its head toward the prosecutor, then back to FettaS. “This unit has no further questions.” He whirs back to standby mode by the table.

FettaS awaits the Prosecutor’s questions.

Jenkins looks towards the Prosecutor, raising an eyebrow in silent questioning.

The prosecutor smooths the front of his jacket, then steps toward Col. Grant. “Did anyone authorize you to go to Sivad?”

FettaS nods, “I authorised it sir”.

The prosecutor smiles faintly. “*You* authorized it?”

Marcus lowers his gaze from the overhead to focus in on FettaS, another one of his odd smiles smears over his face as his eyes attain a predatory gleam.

FettaS nods, “That is what I said”.

Ash gives FettaS a dumb-founded look as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

The prosecutor studies the floor for a moment, then turns, walks back to his table and picks up a handicomp. He checks the readout, then looks back to FettaS. “Vanguard records indicate your responsibilities include oversight of Citadel Base and the destroyer, Indomitable. Are these records correct?”

Giovanni watches the interrogation silently.

Jenkins shifts in his chair, leaning forward to place his elbows on the edge of the table before him, his interest piqued.

FettaS nods, “I also oversee a bit of the Vanguard academy also”.

The prosecutor nods, looking back down at the handicomp. “Nothing here about intelligence work.” He looks back to FettaS. “Do your duties include intelligence gathering?”

FettaS shakes his head, “No sir”.

With a widening smile, Marcus nods approvingly, eyes glinting over towards the prosecutor and back to FettaS.

A grim smile creeps across the prosecutor’s face. “In fact, you have no formal intelligence training, do you?”

Jenkins leans back, his chest deflating as he all but collapses into his chair, eyes still focused in on FettaS.

FettaS shakes his head, “No sir”.

Ash nods in aggrement to what the Prosecutor is asking FettaS.

The prosecutor nods. “So, with a volatile situation reaching a boiling point on Sivad, you take it upon yourself to go there to *gather intelligence*. You had no orders from headquarters to do this?”

Jenkins looks over towards the prosecutor. “Mind you line of questioning.” He warns.

The prosecutor glances toward Jenkins. “I could rephrase it, if you like, Your Honor.”

FettaS looks the prosecutor square in the eyes, “I believed the Vanguard required upto date information. So I attempted to gather it”.

“At the cost of civilian lives.” Marcus blurts out forcefully, anger tinging every spoken word and then some.

The prosecutor snaps his attention back to FettaS. “I didn’t ask what you believed. Were you ordered to do so?”

FettaS shakes his head, “No. I received no orders to do so.”

Jenkins snaps a glare over at Marcus, “Captain, that is enough. Another outburst from you – or anybody – and I’ll have them in contempt. Understood?” His voice a near hiss as his attention quickly snaps back to the here and now.

The prosecutor nods. He looks from Jenkins to FettaS to AB145Q, then back at FettaS. “Nothing further.” He takes a seat.

Marcus glares at the Colonel as he turns away. Soon however, his gaze tracks back towards FettaS to stare at the man intently.

Jenkins nods very slowly. “No closing arguments, I assume?” He asks the prosecution, his eyes silently inquiring the same from the defense.

AB145Q clicks and whirs. “This unit would offer a closing argument.”

The prosecutor sighs. “Then we’ll match it.”

Marcus gestures AB145Q foward, “Begin.”

Jenkins looks over towards Marcus, shaking his head. “You’re in contempt Captain.”

AB145Q swivels its optical receptors toward the jurors, flickering its receptors at Marcus.

FettaS looks at Marcus.

Marcus glares over at Jenkins, his mouth opening to retort. “This is tiresome, we know what is wrong…”

“Not another word Captain. AS soon as this is over, we will have words. Defense. Begin at your own leisure.” Jenkins says, his anger building as he turns back towards the defense council.

With contorting facial features, Marcus sneers at the senior officer before glaring towards FettaS.

Giovanni watches the proceedings darkly, he sighs slightly as he watches.

AB145Q whirs briefly, then proceeds. “The facts of this case which are not in doubt are simply those of circumstance. Yes, the colonel took the Indomitable to Sivad. Yes, he gave the order to land. But he did not kill, nor did he mean to have killed, the victims of Laurence Montevedo. Colonel Talis Grant may be guilty of bad judgment, but he is not a murderer, or an accomplice to it. He acted in what he considered to be the best interests of the Consortium – as ill-fated as his effort might have been. For the rest of his life, he must live with the brand of his mistake. Let us not make the situation worse by making of him a scapegoat.”

AB145Q whirs back to the defense table.

Jenkins nods very slowly, hand rising to his lip to pick at it while the other points at the prosecution. “Your closing statement?”

The prosecutor sighs, rises and says, “I’ll make it brief.” He looks to the jury. “Colonel Talis Grant acted on his own, recklessly, without proper training and without authorization from Vanguard Headquarters. He took it upon himself to gather intelligence from a planet in the grip of a madman. This isn’t about finding a scapegout. It’s about consequences for the actions we take. Would those ten thousand people be dead today if Indomitable had never set down? If Col. Grant had made a *different* choice? But he made this choice. And they died. He is as liable for this as Laurence Montevedo.” He nods curtly, then takes a seat.

Marcus nods firmly, his cold, icey gaze locked onto FettaS’ frame.

Jenkins nods, taking a deep breath. As the breath is exhaled, his chest deflating, Jenkins’ speaks. “Then it is done…Those present have all heard the evidence. We have acquitted one. The fate of the other is for our deciding here and now. Are you ready to make a decision on each charge?” He asks, looking to Ash and Marcus in turn.

Marcus nods slowly, his hands steepling in his lap as his eyes remain attached to FettaS. “Yes, /Sir/.” He says nastily.

AB145Q swivels its optical receptors toward Jenkins. “Your Honor, this unit respectfully asks that Captain Marcus be disqualified from the jury.”

Marcus looks over towards AB145Q, raising an angry eyebrow.

The prosecutor shakes his head.

“Hrm…” Jenkins says in contemplation, eyes casting over towards Marcus. Finally, he decides. “The court is in agreeance and will leave the deciding vote to Corporal Ash while the court, as well, will take a vote. Captain Marcus, you are dismissed. However, be warned, you are still in contempt of court.”

Growling, Marcus pushes his chair away from the table and stares at FettaS, venom tinging his gaze.

AB145Q swivels its receptors toward Ash.

FettaS turns his eyes on the Corporal, hope in his eyes.

Barely looking towards Marcus as he retreats from the table, Jenkins now looks to Ash. “The court brings the charge of Deriliction Of Duty against Colonel Talis Grant to the table. What say the jury. Guilty. Or Not Guilty?”

Ash shakes his head as he looks directly at FettaS, “Sir, my opinion on the situation involving the Col. is not as considerate. Nay, is my answer sir.”

Jenkins looks towards Ash, annoyance flickering over his face. “Guilty or Not Guilty of the charge Deriliction of Duty, Corporal.”

Ash says, “”Let me rephrase myself…”I feel that he is not guilty in the act of mass murder but he is completely guilty for the deriliction of Duty, sir.””

Jenkins sits forward, his gaze peering at the Corporal. “The Court did not ask for a decision of the other charges Corporal.”

Jenkins nods inwardly, turning to face FettaS. “The court finds Colonel Talis Grant guilty of Deriliction Of Duty.”

AB145Q swivels its optical sensors toward FettaS.

Giovanni sighs as the verdict is announced.

“The Charge of Accessory to Murder. Guildy or Not Guilty, Corporal?” Jenkins asks once more.

Marcus stares at Ash, his eyes darkening to reveal nothing but anger and will, as if trying to project his own feelings to the other.

Ash takes a deep breath, “I feel that the Col. is an accessory to Murder even if not intended to be, Guilty sir..”

AB145Q whirs and clicks, swiveling slowly to regard Ash.

The prosecutor nods sagely.

Jenkins nods very slowly, looking over towards FettaS once more, his voice sounding distant and detatched, frosted over as he brings forth ill news. “The court finds Colonel Talis Grant guilty of Accessory to Murder.”

Marcus allows a slow smile to creep across his features as his eyes trace towards FettaS.

Giovanni groans softly, bringing his hands to his head and resting his elbows on his knees.

Jenkins, sitting forward in his chair, looks over to the one-man jury once more. “How does the court find Colonel Talis Grant under the charge of Reckless Endangerment. Guilty or Not Guilty.”

Marcus is sitting a ways away from the jury table as if signifying his detatchment from the procedures going on before him.

Ash stiffens and simply states, “Without reguard for the crew of the entire vessel, the Col. took it to a hostile planet and landed it., all in the purpose of having something to do?……Guilty sir.”

FettaS moves to where the Robot and whispers to it.

Jenkins nods very slowly, “The court concurs. We find Colonel Talis Grant Guilty of Reckless Endangerment. And now….Corporal Ash…How say you on the charges of Mass Murder against Colonel Talis Grant. Guilty or Not Guilty?”

AB145Q swivels its optical receptors toward FettaS.

Ash nods and ponders on this last descision….”I feel that out of complete ignorance on the current events and stupidity on the situation, that Colonel Talis Grant is NOT GUILTY for Mass Murder, sir” He leans back in his chair and ponders his descision further

Jenkins nods very slowly, “In many positions, the court is given the decision to overrule any ruling it sees as unfit or biased..” With this, his gaze tracks over to FettaS and leans back in his chair. Having not been noticed before, a trace of fatigue captures the Colonel’s every movement as his eyes study the younger man before him.

Marcus glares at Ash, shaking his head very, very slowly before returning his attention to Jenkins and FettaS alike.

The prosecutor sighs, then looks to the judge.

Ash returns the hateful glare to Marcus, and then awaits Jenkins descision.

Kaison sits in the crowd of the courtroom watching the verdicts being given out with much interest and concern.

Jenkins opens his mouth, finger prodding it gently. “Colonel Talis Grant…Attention.”

FettaS comes to attention.

Ash straightens and waits for the verdict.

The proesecutor watches Grant carefully.

FettaS continues to stand at attention. Eyes looking straight ahead.

AB145Q elevates slightly higher beside its client.

“The court finds Colonel Talis Grant…Not Guilty of the charge of Mass Murder.” Jenkins announces, “However, Colonel, the other charges have been filed against you and it has been determined that you were guilty of such acts…For that, they cannot go unpunished.”

Marcus looks over towards Jenkins, his eyes glazing over as his fists grasp the armrests.

Jenkins coughs, sitting forward as his left hand reaches for his eyes to message them. “It is to my displeasure…And the ruling of this court…”

Giovanni sighs loudly again, and sits back in his chair, watching judge darkly.

“It is my displeasure and the courts ruling..” Jenkins repeats himself once more, “That Colonel Talis Grant is hereby sentenced to ten years of labor and term. This is to be completed at Venus Orbital Penal Colony. And as such, Colonel Talis Grant is hereby removed from active duty status in the Vanguard and will recieve a resulting Dishonorable Discharge…”

Marcus’ face turns cold and hard as his eyes soften slightly, still focused in on FettaS, awaiting his reaction.

The prosecutor lifts his chin, steepling his fingers.

Ash rubs his olive-skinned chin and nods in approval of the ruling. He looks to Marcus and gives a slight nod.

Giovanni stands from his chair quickly, walking quickly out of the room, his fists balled.

You notice Talis Grant shake whilst at attention.

“Colonel Grant…Your bird, please.” Jenkins commands, tapping the tabletop with his index finger softly while his eyes show remorse for the ruling.

FettaS moves to the desk, unpins his ‘bird’ and places it on the table. He then returns to his position and resumes his attention stance

AB145Q swivels its receptors toward FettaS. “This unit offers condolences for its failure on your behalf.”

Kaison furrows his brow at the result of the trial. However, he maintains his silence amongst the crowd as he watches with disappointment.

Jenkins nods very slowly, motioning Giovanni to collect what is being discarded by the now ex-Colonel. “It is the courts deepest regret to have lost an officer of such fine caliber as yourself, Mr. Grant. And we, the Consortium, the Vanguard, your comrades in arms…” His words are choked off, silence filling the void as he shares a brief, all-knowing nod with the FettaS.

Marcus looks towards FettaS, then towards the retreating Giovanni and back again. “It’s done.” He says defiantly while standing.

FettaS turns his attention to the Captain and gives him a cold, hard, menacing glare like NOTHING the captain could put out.

Jenkins looks to Ash, “Corporal, collect Mr. Grant’s articles.”

FettaS returns his attention to the front.

Ash says, “Yes sir” Ash stands and moves to the table and gathers Mr. Grant’s articles.”

Marcus creaks his neck from side to side, gaze still traveling around the room at the departing individuals, some in quiet contemplation, others in open debate.

Ash straightens his uniform and walks back to his seat.

Jenkins stands slowly, the mark of age showing it’s toll as his lithe frame shudders faintly. “If there is nothing more…Mr. Grant…You will be escorted to your ultimate destination…I thank all present, Jury, defense and prosecution alike for your time and efforts on this case – Mr. Marcus.” He says, voice dropping an octave. “We still will have words.”

The prosecutor rises, salutes the judge, then turns and marches from the room.

Marcus looks over towards Jenkins, shrugging non-chalantly.

The prosecutor has left.

Ash salutes Jenkins and the other officers in the room, does an about face and leaves the room.

Jenkins looks towards FettaS, “Again…I am sorry Mr. Grant. When do you wish to leave?”

Ash heads into Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

FettaS looks to Jenkins, eyes cold, “Now is fine”.

FettaS pays AB145Q 996326 credits.

Jenkins looks towards Kaison then back towards FettaS before ushering 4 rather thick marines forward. “See to it that the Colonel is taken to the docking arm and sent on his way on the inbound prison vessel.

FettaS moves to where Kaison is.

FettaS is ready to follow Kaison.

AB145Q swivels its head, then whirs toward the door.

AB145Q heads into Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

Kaison watches stalwartly, showing no emotions to the officers gathered around him. He looks as FettaS approaches him, ready to be escorted. He says softly to him, “I’m sorry, Sir.”

FettaS nods and you hear him say one final oath, “I _WILL_ return.”

The quad of marines file in behind FettaS, their hands firmly grasping the stocks of their issued handguns.

FettaS turns to the Major, “Lead the way”.

Marcus smirks, then laughs, shaking his head. “Yeah, in 10 years.”

Kaison nods to Fettas and moves towards the exit loading the entourage.

Kaison heads into Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

FettaS heads into Corridor – Deck 1 – SCCV VERSAILLES.

Marcus creaks his head to the side once more, the smirk widening every so slightly.

By Brody

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